Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hot Laps with Miguel Paludo: Driving with a cause at Texas

at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas on April 21, 2012.
Miguel and Oliver Paludo.
Photo courtesy of Turner Motorsports

Skirts and Scuffs is embarking on a partnership with Miguel Paludo and Turner Motorsports for the remainder of the season. In the next few months, we will be speaking with Miguel one-on-one for a driver diary/interview documenting his second season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Paludo, driver of the No. 32 Unite for Diabetes/Duroline Chevrolet, chatted with Skirts and Scuffs as he prepared for the upcoming race at Texas Motor Speedway. The sponsorship for the race at Texas is extra special for Paludo because he is diabetic, as well as father to a newly diagnosed diabetic son.

Six races into his sophomore season, when asked the difference in his growth as a driver, Paludo  has only noticed some small changes from last season.

“One change is knowing the tracks, so every weekend, every race track I go, I have experience. This year I feel more comfortable. Second thing is the confidence, you know, as a driver to know what I want in the truck. Last year it was the track, race time, what I need and now this year I know the track I am going to so I know what I need. Sometimes it is right, sometimes I make mistakes, but I am pretty much more comfortable for the feedback and those things.”

Paludo also notes, “The communication with my crew and crew chief, we’ve not been working together for a long time. With only fives races in the season (complete) every race you go to we are having better communication and getting along better.”

Maybe they're not big changes, but those Paludo has noticed in himself are evident on track. In the season-opening Daytona race, he started on pole and led 56 laps before being involved in a horrific wreck.

                                       Paludo’s truck gets airborne, but he walked away!          

Helping Paludo make those changes this season is veteran crew chief Mike Hillman, Jr., who won the 2006 and 2010 Truck championships as crew chief for Todd Bodine.

“Having a guy that is a champion for my crew chief, really encourages me to do well. He has the experience, he has won races and that helps, but at the same time we need time to get along and bond. We started this season really well: winning the pole, leading a lot of laps at Daytona, but the next races we were running in the top 10 most of the time, and top 5 last week at Dover. I think we are going a good job together but we need to just keep working to make us better every weekend.”


Paludo described the struggles to gain momentum with a scattered schedule in the first half of the season. “That’s the toughest part, like at Daytona, we had a pretty good race winning the pole, leading the race and then we had five weekends off. That is the toughest part. After Daytona between Martinsville and Rockingham we had three weeks off, it is a pretty tough schedule.”

In the recent weeks, Paludo has been thankful for some down time in his schedule. Off the track, he and wife Patricia have been dealing with nine-month-old Oliver being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a hard blow to the new parents.

“One thing I was so pleased about when we found out about Oliver’s diagnosis, is that I was not racing that weekend. It was a really tough week for us and it was one of the worst days of our life when we found out. I was so glad to focus 100% on that and not think of racing,” Paludo said. One time to be thankful for the erratic schedule!

“This upcoming weekend will be a month, June 8th, we’ve had three weeks so far and he is doing awesome,” Miguel said of Oliver’s progress so far. “We are learning everyday about it, having diabetes you work everyday. Sometimes it is tough being 28 years old and diabetic, imagine being 9 months old, that is a hundred thousand times harder. You have to make decisions for his life and you can’t make mistakes at all. I am glad that I have had diabetes for eight years, I have had time to learn about it and train, now I will have the experience to teach Oliver.”

AukkVziCIAA3BDf.jpg largePaludo shared high praise for his wife, Patricia, who he stated “is doing an amazing job” caring for Oliver and handling the diagnosis as well.

In the past Miguel has proudly driven with paint schemes honoring diabetes awareness, but this weekend at Texas, those decals take on a whole new meaning as Paludo takes to the track with Oliver on board as they together Unite for Diabetes.

Not only is Oliver’s picture on the back of the truck, but his name is above the passenger side door, riding shotgun with his proud papa.

The Unite for Diabetes paint scheme is to promote World Diabetes Day on November 14. Paludo says, “Being a father, a family member or even a friend of someone with diabetes, you create awareness about care and finding a cure. At the end of the day we want to find a cure!  I do not want to be diabetic for the rest of my life, but until that happens I want to have a normal life.”

Normal may not be the word for the life of a NASCAR driver, but Paludo is now on a mission not only for himself, but for Oliver.

Follow Miguel on Twitter, Facebook or on his website.

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